Why modernising Calderdale's youth services is being put in the spotlight

Julie Jenkins director of children's and young peoples service for Calderdale Council.
Julie Jenkins director of children's and young peoples service for Calderdale Council.

Modernising Calderdale’s Youth Service is in the spotlight with councillors set to examine what is offered to young people, and where.

The first focus of Calderdale Council’s Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Board will be “open access” services – such as youth clubs and play sessions – and how the council could use buildings better to deliver services young people want.

Calderdale Council’s Director of Children and Young People’s Services, Julie Jenkins, Youth Justice Service and Young People Service manager Jeff Rafter and Young People Service operations manager John Greenwood presented a detailed report to the board about what work the Youth Service does now, how and where.

Councillors agreed it is a vast subject, ranging from youth work to advocacy and taking in the council’s looked-after children’s services.

To meet deadlines and do their scrutiny work thoroughly, councillors felt a focus on some issues would be more constructive than trying to look at the whole service in one go.

Ms Jenkins said the council ran a very traditional youth service and the board could look at how the authority could help prioritise and modernise it with delivery across the borough a key issue.

And young people had an important voice in shaping policy, councillors heard.

Coun Anne Collins (Lab, Ovenden) said there was a risk the board would bite off more than it could chew if it tried to examine too much at once.

She suggested scrutiny could start with examining “open access” services and also how the council could use buildings better to carry out the work.

Mr Greenwood had told councillors youth service covered four areas, traditional youth clubs, mobile units, expert help when it was needed and a young carers’ service.

Some things were not offered consistently across the borough but the service’s flexibility meant it could respond to situations.

There were full time staff in place for consistency, casual staff for ad hoc deployment and increased levels of mobile and specialist work, he said, underpinned by data which measured impact and identified areas where improvements could be made.

Two mobile units covered nine locations across the borough and another unit would be available in the autumn when Brighouse Youth Centre is scheduled to close.

Mr Rafter said the Youth Service had finite resources and was based on a historic model around localities – but over time some community buildings had become unsuitable or unavailable.